Thursday, October 16, 2008

CHEAP EATS: Dac Biet Fast Food (Chinatown)

Back in my college days on the Westside, us poor students would line up around the corner for $1.50 subs. They were stuffed with your choice of mid-grade meat, iceberg lettuce and thickly-sliced cucumbers. They doused it with a squeeze bottle of Smart & Final's finest Italian dressing and handed it to you in a white paper bag. It was the most fulfilling meal six quarters could afford. Sigh. That was 1999.

In 2008, the only thing that comes close to feeding my nostalgia is a Vietnamese sandwich, aka banh mi. It's a foot-long baguette packed with charcuterie, julienned vegetables (pickled Asian-style with vinegar and sugar) and fresh sprigs of cilantro. A smear mayo and liver pate gives it that extra oomph.

I got my shredded chicken sandwich for $2.75 in Chinatown, at a little shop you're sure to miss unless you happen to be shopping at the market next door, Ai Hoa. You'll undoubtedly find fresher bread at Lee's Sandwiches across town, and by that demerit alone it may never gain the banh mi enthusiast's nod of approval. But for the Westsider that I am, Chinatown is just a stone's throw away. These days, I'd be lucky to get to Little Saigon and back on a single tank of gas.

I'm fully aware of the newly established banh mi shop just west of the 405, but frankly, the offerings there just don't capture the essence of a decent Asian sandwich. Subtle flavors is key. An overweight tub of teriyaki sauce is not.

Dac Biet Fast Food
(aka, Rainbow Bakery; next to Ai Hoa market)
860 N Hill St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Digg this


TonyC said...

so.. did you get the "Dac Biet" sammie? and seriously? $2.75? that's damned expensive for banh mi :(

Pirikara said...

I got the shredded chicken. And yeah, $2.75 is relatively expensive. But considering it'd cost me an extra $2 in gas to drive to the nearest Lee's, I'd rather stop in Chinatown. I've regressed to my starving student days, Tony. =(

boody said...

oh man, this looks so good! i need to find a vietnamese sandwich place out in nyc, STAT!